October 22, 2009

Lambs in Wolves' Clothing

I love clothes. I can't afford to act on that love very often with my budget, so I have become more of an observer of the latest fashion trends - which is why I was flipping through a Vogue magazine when waiting in the checkout line the other day. I came across a Dolce and Gabbanna ad, and I swear the scantily clad models draped provocatively across each other were no more than fourteen - at the most. I know what fourteen year old girls look like. They still have that childish roundness to their cheeks, underdeveloped breasts, and skin as smooth as the baby's bottom they still have. Auchhh! I growled disgustedly as I flipped through the magazine. I saw more little girls modeling rich women's clothing and couldn't help myself - I said out loud, "So this is what all the fourteen year olds will be wearing this season. Lovely." The woman in front of me turned around and smiled, shrugging like there was nothing to be done about it.

I guess I am feeling sensitive. My eldest daughter is turning thirteen soon. Fortunately for her dad and I, she cares more about horses than boys at present, but what she wears is starting to matter quite a lot to her - she is my daughter after all. She's also growing tall and slim and looks good in skinny jeans, but that's no reason why she and girls not much older than she should be modeling grown-ups' clothing. Honestly, it's cute when five year olds play dressup in their mother's shoes, lingerie, and jewellery, but it ceases to be funny when fourteen year olds do it. Sure, they might look technically better in our clothes than we do - I'm willing to admit that, and I'd lend my daughter my sweaters if I they fit her - but somehow they just don't look...right.

I think clothes should honour the person wearing them. Gaping necklines and see-through silk don't honour a fourteen year old girl who is just barely beginning to be aware of what it means to be a woman. When I see those ads I want to grab those models and pull a t-shirt with a cute slogan and a picture of an owl over their heads, rip off the stillettos (or whatever), and shove some electric blue hightops on their feet instead. (Hopefully, that's what they do wear when they aren't modelling.) I'm at the age now where I honour my shape by draping it in 'structured' jackets and A-line skirts, because that is what I feel dignified in. There was a time when I could wear pretty much anything - and I did, but I just don't have that body anymore. It took me just as long as any other vain woman to realize it, but that's where I'm at. If I dressed like a fourteen year old, I would just look silly.

This body has produced four children. It has been stretched, pushed , prodded, poked, hooked up, sucked on, and wrung out - four times over. On a good day, especially after a good session of yoga or a long run, I think I look pretty good for what I've been through. Fortunately, there are plenty of clothing stores that market to women of a certain age and stage(mine), and their models reflect that. I could make a pretty long list of these retailers if I wanted to, but what I am criticizing are the big-name fashion designers, like the ones who advertise in Vogue - they are the ones using children as coat-hangers. They are the ones who set the tone for the world of fashion. Mid-pubescent gangly girls with dewy skin and doey eyes sell clothes I guess, but they aren't even close to representing the women who will actually buy them - and that's a disservice to real women, and young girls, everywhere.


  1. You do a really good job articulating concerns common to at least some of us mothers. Based on how some of my (11yrold) daughter's classmates dress, not all moms share these opinions. These young teens and tweens are so beautiful just in their youth, they don't need to dress beyond their years. I'm going to stop spluttering here, stop trying to further comment, because you said it so well.


  2. Thanks, Valerie. You are very kind. I agree about these girls being so beautiful in their youth - they truly are!


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